Born New York, USA
Died London, England
Russian-Polish Jewish émigré Jacob Epstein was raised in Manhattan’s multicultural Lower East Side and settled in London in 1905. A champion of direct carving, his controversial public commissions including the British Medical Association building façade (1907−08) in London and Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris (1911), challenged prevailing notions of sexuality and beauty and favoured the non-European model. His portrait heads, however, were always in demand. Epstein was only finally accepted by the establishment five years before his death when he was knighted in 1954.
Epstein was a noted Patron of the Society from 1936–37. He first exhibited in the Opening of the Ben Uri Jewish Art Gallery and an Exhibition of Works by Jewish Artists at Woburn House in 1934. Ben Uri subsequently held a number of retrospectives including an Exhibition of Bronzes in 1959; a Centenary Exhibition in 1980; and Embracing the Exotic: Jacob Epstein and Dora Gordine in 2006. A special Epstein day tour around London led by Richard Cork was also held on 19 August 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death.
Object type sculpture
Materials and techniques bronze (medium)
Dimensions 48 x 40 x 20 cm
Acquisition bequest of Ethel Solomon
Accession number 1987-88
Display status not on display
Lydia, a jazz singer and/or dancer, was working as a waitress at Epstein’s favourite Chinese restaurant in London’s Wardour Street when they met; this is the second of three busts of her created between 1929 and 1934.